There is a wealth of budgeting software options on the market today. Some are online, and some are installed through software on your computer. Some are free, and some will break your budget all on their own.
Some are quite simple, and others are very complex. Before you purchase any home budgeting software, consider some of the following things to ensure you're getting a good deal on software that will actually work for you.
Is the package relevant to the UK?
Not all software packages are licensed in the UK. You need to make sure that your package will not only work on your computer but that it will also be relevant for your life. For instance, make sure that it will interface with UK banks and that you'll be able to make your calculations in the currency you use.
Can the budgeting software safely interface with my bank accounts and investment accounts?
One of the main advantages to using this type of software is that you can often automatically download or reconcile information from your bank and investment accounts. This means you have real time information to budget with. However, this can cause some security issues. Make sure that your program doesn't store all your account information in an easy-to-hack place. Never sign up for software that doesn't offer security and privacy guarantees on its website.
Are the categories easy to use?
Most of this type of software for budgeting comes with at least a few common budget categories. If you can't change them to suit your actual budget, though, the program may not work for you. Check out some reviews to ensure that you can truly tailor the budgeting software to your needs.
Is the package online or on your computer?
Both of these have advantages. With an online package, you can access your budgeting tools from anywhere you can get an Internet connection.
If you can't get connected, though, you can't use the software. With a package for your computer, you don't have to be online to access your budget.
If you can't take your computer with you, though, you can't get to your budget at all. Either way, make sure the package works with your computer and Internet connection.
What support is there for the software?
Even those who are comfortable with new software programs need a little help sometimes. Make sure you can get support for your program through an FAQ page at the very least. Forums and help line numbers are even better, though.
Can you export data?
It can be a good idea to make sure that you have the ability to export data. This means you'll be able to use your data in other ways than just the budgeting program. Or if you decide to cancel a software subscription at least you can keep the data; then if you decide to change your mind you can easily start where you left off.
Can you create running budget reports?
Having a weekly or monthly budgeting worksheet report will help you stay on track with your budget. Instead of working yourself into a sticky situation, you can see where you're starting to go wrong right away. Then, you can take necessary steps to solve the problem before it gets any worse. Being able to automatically create reports can really help you stay on track financially.
Can you use a free trial option?
Even if a budgeting software program looks like it's exactly what you want, you can't be totally sure until you've tried it. Having a free trial option, whether or not you have to enter your credit card number to get it, can really help you decide which program you like. Remember, though, that if you do enter your credit card number, you'll have to actually cancel your subscription if you don't like the program.
How often do you have to pay?
Do you pay for it yearly, monthly or with a one off fee? If you know you love a program, a one off payment might be cheaper in the long run if you continue to use it. If you are prone to switching technologies, you may want to try a monthly subscription that you can easily cancel. A yearly subscription is good if you think you'll like the program but don't have the money upfront for a more expensive one off payment.
Making the choice
Once you've taken all these items into consideration, spend some time deciding which option will be best for your needs. Then, if you can, do a free or paid trial of your favourites. Try them out for a month or so, and cancel it if you don't like it. It's annoying to have to start over again, but it means you'll find the best budgeting software for your needs. Just remember that you'll be using this software a lot, so spending the extra time up front is really worth it.